Explore Kilkenny, Carlow and Wexford
The major tourist sight in the south of the county of Kilkenny is Jerpoint Abbey, which lies on the N9, 20km south of Kilkenny city. Originally founded as a Benedictine house in 1158, the abbey was colonized by Cistercians some twenty years later. The oldest remain is the twelfth-century Romanesque church, but the rest, set around a beautifully colonnaded fifteenth-century cloister, follows the characteristic Cistercian design. The abbey features a number of thirteenth- to sixteenth-century tomb sculptures in the transept chapels and some intriguing carvings on the cloister arcade, including the “little man of Jerpoint” whose stomach-crossed hands and open-mouthed expression suggest either mirth or dyspepsia.
The jumping-off point for the abbey, THOMASTOWN, 2km to the northeast, is a pleasant riverside crossroads town on the Dublin–Waterford train line, which has a decent choice of places to eat and drink, and hosts a traditional music festival over the bank holiday weekend in early August. A walled town of some note in medieval times, Thomastown now maintains scant sense of its own antiquity, other than its old bridge across the Nore and the ruined thirteenth-century church of St Mary’s at the top of the main street, Market Street.